Osseo High School Teacher Spearheads Community Project

Osseo Lions Club and local teacher Elie Bengston create a community masterpiece.

A few years ago, Osseo resident Elie Bengston and her husband where traveling in Door County, Wisconsin when she saw a mosaic that inspired her to start a similar project in her own community. “It was really powerful,” she explains, “As a teacher, it was a connection for me and I thought a visual representation of our community would be such a cool idea.” Thus, Osseo Senior High’s very own Community Mosaic was born.

Led by chemistry teacher Bengston, the official project kicked off last fall. She and her husband made and gave out 6- by 6- inch canvases at Osseo Senior High and during community events. The intent was for the canvas tiles to be decorated with any sort of artistic touch desired. The costs were largely covered by the Osseo Lions Club. “[Osseo Lions] were big in that they gave us money to buy materials,” Bengston says. “We worked furiously at home to make those [tiles] and hand out as many as we could,” she adds.

Along with the blank canvases, residents were given a flier listing criteria for what might be put on the canvas. The only restrictions were that art must be appropriate and fit inside the canvas dimensions. The canvas tiles and artist statements—slips of paper that give insight to the tile’s artist and what they conveyed on the canvas—were then collected in December. Last month, the tiles were placed together to build a large mosaic wall at Osseo Senior High.

The Community Mosaic Project aims to provide a visual means of representing all parts of the community. The tiles represent the thoughts and ideas of locals ranging from adult artists to young children. Viewers are invited to give a financial donation throughout the duration of the wall display and obtain a tile number. Each tile number is secret, according to Bengston. “They don’t know which tiles they are going to get. That’s kind of the fun part,” she explains. Those who donate will receive the tile matching their number when the display is taken down in April.

All donations go toward Osseo Senior High’s Counselor Fund, which helps families within the community receive necessary assistance. The funds are applied at the discretion of each counselor. “As counselors get to know and work with students and families within the school, they identify special financial needs, such as food or clothing,” Bengston explains.

The Community Mosaic Project is a unique way to allow people of all ages to express themselves and help others at the same time.

The mosaic wall will be on display at Osseo Senior High through April 1. For more information, contact Elie Bengston at BengstonE@district279.org.